Resource Articles by Dr. Hess

Here are several tips to more effectively improve your special needs child's transition into the new school year.

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  1. Start a month ahead with a scheduled bedtime and wakeup routine.
  2. Create a personalized social story to help your child know what to expect.
  3. Meet with your child's teacher before the school year begins. Make sure that you walk through the building multiple times with your child helping to locate the classrooms, bathrooms, and lunch room and recess areas before the beginning of the new semester.
  4. For older children and teens, practice the route that they will take as they go from class to class and spend time helping them figure out locker combinations in a timely fashion.
  5. Depending on your child's developmental age, prepare for school experiences by using puppets or by role-playing some enjoyable school activities.
  6. Create predictability with another kind of visual aid, in this case, a back to school calendar.
  7. If your child has an individualized education plan (an IEP), please be aware of those goals and make sure they are implemented as soon as school starts.
  8. Review homework assignments with your child in a specific order to maintain routine and predictability.
  9. Start the homework at the same time every day. The earlier the child gets started, the better. Have the work area organized and free from distractions.
  10. It is helpful to color code notebooks to coordinate with a specific subject.
  11. In regards to an optimal homework environment, think about your child's sensory needs and ask yourself the following questions:
    • Is the lighting too bright?
    • Are there noise distractions or will music help?
    • Does my child need deep pressure input, such as a weighted blanket or vest?
  12. Consider a physical activity before settling down to do work and remember to include sensory breaks, like a crunchy snack, as a way to help a child tolerate the homework load.